Home Institution

Washington University in St. Louis

Publication Date

Spring 2017

Program Name

South Africa: Social and Political Transformation


This study expands upon whiteness studies that aim to interrogate whiteness and render it visible in contexts where it may operate as the norm, and explore its relationship with expressions of dominant and subordinated masculinities in post-apartheid South Africa. Using the lived experiences of white men in South Africa, the researcher examines themes of power and dispossession in relation to expressions of masculinities during the country’s recent economic, political, and social transformation. Focus groups and semi-structured interviews were conducted to gather data surrounding participants’ experiences of transformation, the majority of which took place at a bowling club outside of Durban. Findings indicate that the majority of participants did in fact experience a sense of disempowerment as white men in the economic, political, and social sectors, and used specific discursive tactics to continue to elevate whiteness as the norm and reinforce racial divisions. This division manifested in the promotion of idealized capitalistic masculinities in tandem with subordinated African masculinities. The study’s one younger participant offered an entirely different perspective, suggesting a new sense of agency amongst youth in direct contrast to the hopelessness of older participants.


African Languages and Societies | African Studies | Politics and Social Change | Race and Ethnicity


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